Your plumbing system is like your car. If you don’t maintain it, the system will likely cause you headache and heartache.
While nothing lasts forever, there are certain things you can do to ensure that your plumbing system lasts as long as it was intended.
A few things that apply to all of the spaces you maintain:
- Whenever you turn a valve you should always look at the packings (if any) when done to insure these are not leaking. If so, you will need to tighten it up.
- Always feel the bottom of cabinets for moisture. Sometimes you can’t see it but you can feel it.
Without further ado, let’s get right into the proper once-a-year plumbing maintenance of your system in every area of your home.
First take a look under your kitchen sink. Look at the drain pipes and the basket strainers or garbage disposers that are mounted to the sink. Look for corrosion or stains that might indicate something is leaking.
Learn about the reasons why a garbage disposal leaks and how to fix it.
Use a flashlight to insure you actually can see a problem if it’s there. If so, it’s time to make needed plumbing repairs before you have a problem that causes damage.
Next look at the faucet mounting hardware under the back of the sink. Look for small water droplets or signs of corrosion that indicated a leaky faucet body or water getting between the sink and faucet.
Best to fix this before the corrosion gets so bad that the faucet has to be destroyed to remount or repair.
Replace any rubber water supply tubes feeding the faucet as they WILL burst if left for a long time.
Turn all the valves off and on a couple times (including the dishwasher valve). This is known as “exercising” the valve. This will keep the valves from seizing up and being non-functional just when the water line bursts.
Use a drain maintenance product (NOT a drain opener) at least once a month to insure your kitchen drain does not cake up and stop flowing.
Pull the refrigerator out and exercise the valve. Check for drips at the water connections to the valve and refrigerator.
Look behind your stove to make sure you do not have a recalled gas connector. If you do, replace it immediately.
Exercise the hot and cold valves under the sink(s).
While there inspect the faucet mounting area. Look for corrosion or stains that might indicate something is leaking. Use a flashlight to insure you actually can see a problem if it’s there. If so, it’s time to make needed repairs before you have a problem that causes damage.
Check for leaks at the pop-up waste linkage when the sink bowl is drained. Also, exercise the toilet valve.
Check the toilet seal to insure the space below the toilet does not get contaminated from a leaky seal.
Tighten up the toilet seat mounting bolts if necessary.
Inspect the area between the tank and bowl for any sign of leakage.
Open the tank lid on the toilet and check to see if the water is overflowing. As parts wear this can easily happen. This is the most common cause of high water bills. Repair if necessary.
Check to make sure the trip lever is tight on the toilet tank. Tighten and adjust.
Ensure that the flush mechanism is intact and has not worn out causing the toilet to flush incorrectly (or not at all). If you have to hold the flush lever down to make the toilet flush, it needs attention.
Replace any rubber or plastic supply tubes.
Run your tub and/or shower faucet. Check for leaks and bend the handle. On tub spouts with shower diverters check to ensure that all the water is going to the shower head when it’s supposed to and not just leaking out and going down the drain.
Inspect all caulk joints. If you observe any cracks or gaps, replace the caulk to prevent water damage and infestation of carpenter ants.
Mechanical Areas Maintenance
Always look at all exposed pipes for accidental damage and signs of corrosion.
Flush the water heater to remove sediment buildup. This helps efficiency and will extend the life of your heater.
Vacuum the lint and dust filters on the water heater.
Operate the safety valve to insure it has not seized or become defective/leaking.
Check the age of the heater. If it’s over 8-10 years old, it’s time to consider replacement.
Check any floor drains to make sure they are still sealed and water has not evaporated.
Replace any rubber hoses on washing machines. Burst rubber hoses are the largest cause of water damage insurance claims according to home insurers.
Look at the water meter dial to see if it’s turning while all plumbing items are off.
Exercise main water, water heater and any other water control valves in the mechanical area.
Check for leaks under the laundry tub and washing machine control valves.
Check any pumps by manually operating. Visually inspect any pits to see if floats have stopped working.
Check any gas appliance connectors to see if they have been recalled.
Treat laundry drains once a month with a drain maintenance product.